Posted Tuesday, September 05, 2017, Author - Nathan Smith
Buildup is condition that occurs when ingredients accumulate on the hair shaft. Over time, this can cause undesirable appearance and a failure of next
application of products to work properly.
How buildup shows up: stringy or sticky hair, hair can feel both dry and greasy, dull coat, overly soft (lacks body), unusually frizzy or just generally weird feeling, products don’t achieve usual results. The most recent buildup problem I encountered was with a full-coated ShihTzu that I groom monthly. The dog would show up with the coat looking very dirty, greasy and unkempt, even though I knew the owners brushed daily and bathed in between appointments. The coat looked stringy and oily, but felt dry. The owners were distraught. Once I was able to “see” the problem as most likely being buildup from home grooming, we changed the coat spray they were using during brushing and the problem resolved.
All conditioning agents, especially cationic conditioners and oils, have the potential to build up. The same technology and chemical engineering that has made conditioning agents more “substantive to hair” or better able to adhere to the hair shaft, have created the potential of buildup. Hair itself has a negative ionic “charge”. Cationic ingredients have a positive ionic charge. The cationic ingredients are attracted to the negative surface of the hair. The strength of this attraction depends upon the strength of the cationic charge of the ingredients. Not all cationics are equally charged, some are more powerful, some are lightly charged. This is one of the variables that formulators work with. The negative charge on the hair can also vary. Damaged areas of a hair cuticle carry a stronger negative charge.
Buildup is most likely to occur under the following circumstances:
Buildup is not inevitable. Some hair is more prone to buildup than others, some products have more ingredients that stick to hair. Buildup is an interaction between products and the nature of the hair itself. Before I list ingredients that have been associated with buildup, I want to remind the reader that having the potential for buildup does not mean that buildup is going to occur. This is not a “do not use” list. As groomer we need to be aware of where the potential problems might occur. This is what we call “Mindful Grooming”. This is a mindful grooming list.
Some ingredients that might buildup:
How do you remove buildup? A good clarifying shampoo or degreaser which contains a fairly strong detergent and no additional conditioning ingredients will remedy most cases of product buildup. If you are using a sulfate shampoo as your basic cleanser, you will remove residual conditioning ingredients without buildup becoming an issue. It is a good idea to always have a clarifying shampoo in your cabinet. If you are unsure whether or not your favorite go-to shampoo has cationic conditioning ingredients, just switch to another product for a time or two. Look for a shampoo based on Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, or Alpha Olefin Sulfonate.
A vinegar rinse will have a clarifying effect and will remove residue. There are a few products marketed as “acidifiers” which are designed for hair and will remove residue and leave the hair manageable and with texture. Some human beauty blogs suggest using baking soda to remove buildup, but this can be extremely harsh and drying to the hair.
Although product buildup is not common to the pet groomer, it can be the reason for the failure to get the expected results from products we are using or a full coat gradually becoming stringy, flat, or generally funky. Knowing the circumstances associated with buildup and ingredients that have the potential for sticking around too long will help the educated groomer be more mindful in selecting and using products. Every groomer’s cabinet should include a good clarifying shampoo to remedy buildup should it occur.